State Department Report: Council of Ministers Without Women and Sexual Orientation as a Cause of Dissmisal

americka ambasada

Recently, Bosnia and Herzegovina 2013 Human Rights Report was published, and in its summary it emphasizes that the government corruption and dysfunction remained among the country’s most serious problems and impeded citizens’ rights to basic services, and that human rights violations include discrimination and violence against women and LGBT people. LGBT human rights violations are evident in several areas: hate speech in media and used by public officials, discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, and physical attack on LGBT activists. Many media outlets used incendiary language, such as hate speech during an April episode of TV Pink’s program Forbidden Forum on the subject of same-sex marriage, hate speech was found in text messages from audience members that were broadcast on the show. The Press Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina registered 20 cases of incitement and spread-of-hate speech from January to the end of August, all referring to online media. In May, Mayor Marko Pavic of Prijedor referred to the May 31 commemoration known as the Day of White Armbands, which honors persons killed in the municipality during the 1992-95 conflict, as a “gay pride parade.” State Atni-Discrimination Law is still not implemented in entirety, and discrimination against LGBT persons happens often. Although state-level laws provide protections to LGBT persons, a gap in entity-level laws left room for discrimination by allowing subnational law enforcement to deflect responsibility for crimes based on sexual orientation. In some cases dismissal letters explicitly stated that sexual orientation was the cause of termination, making it extremely difficult for them to find another job. Sarajevo Open Center noted that most state-level institutions assume that the prohibition of discrimination regulated by state-level law is sufficient to protect LGBT persons. At the same time, entity level laws do not provide explicit protections to LGBT persons. In March attackers verbally and physically abused seven members of the LGBT rights organization Okvirin Sarajevo, but police never issued a formal report or made any arrests.

When it comes to women’s rights, numbers on women political participation speak for themselves: 9 of 42 members of the state-level House of Representatives were women, but there were no women in the 10-member Council of Ministers. At the entity level, one woman was a minister in the Federation government, and in RS, five of 16 ministers, including the prime minister and one deputy speaker in parliament, were women. During the year women parliamentarians formed a caucus in the Federation House of Representatives, the first formal, intraparty grouping in any legislature in the country.

Issues of violence against women, domestic violence and sexual abuse remain distressing, and the cases reamin underreported. Law enforcement officials were often under the mistaken impression that they needed to concern themselves with where the perpetrator would live, despite legal provisions explicitly defining actions in such cases. Many NGOs reported that victims almost never filed complaints because they did not recognize their experiences as harassment and were not aware of their legal rights. The problem of unequal pay, although not evident in public companies, is widespread in private business. Women had problems with nonpayment of allowances for maternity leave and unwarranted dismissal of pregnant women and new mothers, and many job announcements openly advertised discriminatory criteria, such as age and physical appearance for female applicants.